Meet Kansas City Dental Hygienist Lauren Villalobos, RDH, BSDH
Apr. 23, 2018
Villalobos currently works as a full-time (four days a week) Dental Hygienist at Foundation Periodontics in Lenexa, KS. She also is employed part-time at our Kansas City campus, where she teaches and observes clinical skills of current students going through the Dental Hygiene Program.
We had the opportunity to talk with Villalobos and learn more about her story, here is what she had to share:
Her Journey to Becoming a Concorde Dental Hygienist
I started my journey of becoming a dental hygienist in late 2011 when I applied to two different dental hygiene schools for the 2012 school year. I was accepted into the dental hygiene school in Manhattan, Kansas for the 2012 school year. As any dental hygiene student likely knows, that first year was full of new knowledge that I was eager to gain. It was also full of great experiences, both in my personal life and my soon to be professional life.
Unfortunately, right before my final year of hygiene school in the summer of 2013, I was involved in a motorcycle accident that brought my schooling to a sudden halt. As I recovered, I was able to complete the fall semester that year by going to school part-time, eventually having to take a break from my education to fully heal in the spring semester.
After nearly a year of recovery, I decided it was time to think about returning to school to pursue my education in dental hygiene- as it was always what I dreamed of doing. In the summer of 2014, I applied to a dental hygiene school that was much closer to home, Concorde Career College in Kansas City, MO. This allowed me to have the close support of my family, as I was still recovering from my injuries while continuing to work towards my goal of becoming a dental hygienist. I was accepted to Concorde's Dental Hygiene program in the fall of 2014, and I could not wait to start fresh with my education.
Though a career in dental hygiene has always been my greatest ambition, it was at Concorde that I really discovered why I was passionate about the field: There are so many avenues for an individual to pursue within the dental hygiene fieldâbeyond private clinical practice.
Why Become a Dental Hygienist
A part of me always knew I wanted a career in the dental field, even at a very young age, it was just a field I was naturally drawn to. I really choose the career path of dental hygiene when I was in high school. I started doing college visits to dental hygiene schools and shadowing hygienists who were working in the field. I was really drawn to the one-on-one aspect the dental hygienists have with patients.
Most of the hygienists I shadowed had been with their offices for several years and had wonderful relationships with their patients. Having these relationships with their patients, I could tell mattered because there was a level of trust that was earned. With that trust, if there were certain treatment recommendations or home care advice that was given, the patients were more receptive to these recommendations.
What's Being a Dental Hygienist Like
Being a Dental Hygienist is very rewarding. Not only do you get to interact with many different patients with different cultures and beliefs, but also as a dental hygienist you are constantly teaching each and every patient about the importance of their oral care.
When educating a patient on home-care, what I find most rewarding is when patients ask me questions about their home care and I am able to answer them in a way that is understandable to them. By communicating with patients in a way that they understand, it is almost like a light bulb goes off for them on how to properly take care of their oral health at home.
Being a dental hygienist, of course, has its challenges. I work in a specialty practice that focuses on the treatment of gum disease. Most of my patients haven't had a dental cleaning in over five-plus years when they first come to us. The majority of these patients are very anxious to come see us because it has been so long since they have seen a dentist. Relieving their anxiety can be very challenging, but developing personal relationships with them from the moment they sit in the dental chair helps to put them at ease during their treatment. I enjoy treating and educating these patients because even though they may be a challenging case you get to see the most improvement in their oral care.
Favorite Part of Concorde Experience
When thinking back on my experiences during that time, it truly is hard to pick one favorite experience. Being an 18-month program, it truly amazes me how much students learn while at Concorde. When you first start treating patients (as students) in the clinic, you still have so many skills to learn and master. [I feel like] Every student graduates the program with the competency of taking care of patients outside of the school setting because of the confidence and passion of all the professors.
Reflecting back, getting to see myself progress through the program and build up my dental hygiene skills while at Concorde is my favorite part of the experience there. Another experience I enjoyed while in the dental hygiene program was participating in community outreach programs in the Kansas City area. We did many programs that serviced children in the area, such as "Team Smile." This program is held at sports stadiums like Kauffman and Arrowhead, where kids under the age of 18 are brought to get their teeth cleaned and treatment of cavities.
Furthering Her Education
I have gone back and furthered my education since graduating from Concorde. While I was in the program, there was a presentation given one day from an online degree completion program for a bachelor's degree located in Minnesota. Once the presentation was over, I knew I wanted to find more out about this program. I did research on the program and spoke to other students who graduated from Concorde and were completing this program as well. From there, I knew I would be pursuing this opportunity. I started the online degree completion program August of 2016 and graduated with my Bachelors of Science in Dental Hygiene in December of 2017.
While completing the bachelor's program, I found a true passion for the teaching side of Dental Hygiene and decided that I wanted to continue on and pursue my Master's degree. I applied to the University of Missouri and Kansas-City for the Masters in Dental Hygiene Education. I was accepted into the Master's program and will be starting classes' this summer (2018).
Some Fun Facts
Some fun things about me include; I played two years of tennis in college at a community college, I have a second-degree black belt, and I can play the piano. What I enjoy more than anything is spending the summers out at the lake on our boat with family and friends. Some of my favorite TV shows are New Girl, Friends, and Ozarks. I am a huge Disney fan and love horror/thriller films as well.
The best advice I can give is, "Do something today that your future self will thank you for."
Becoming a Dental Hygienist
We really appreciated the opportunity to learn more about the journey Villalobos had come to and going through Concorde to accomplish her dream of becoming a dental hygienist.
If you'd like to learn more about the Dental Hygienist or Dental Assistant programs at Concorde, or any of our other health care programs, reach out to us today!